Baiting Joe’s birds

Did I just say “baiting” here? Not really baiting if the birds only eat seeds, eh? No, no baiting in place here, not more than the little old lady shaking out her morning tablecloth with crumbs for the birds. But the abundance of seeds does attract some birds that will come back year after year. It seems they have a pretty good memory for places that assure their descendants down the road.

Male Pine Grosbeak

So here we are again. We are at Joe’s place. A private property (so don’t go and look for a location cuz there ain’t gonna be any…)

Joe has a little house near Lake Winnipeg, that much I can say. He decided a long time ago that feeding the birds in the neighbourhood would offset the losses by feral cats, trigger happy neighbours and car accidents by some measure.

Female Pine GrosbeakFemale Pine Grosbeak

I think he is right about that one. Although the price is pretty high, One to two bags of seeds every week of the winter months. But who are we to complain? As an allowed person on his terrain, I can photograph the most magnificent birds without disturbing anyone except Joe. Joe does this for his personal entertainment. I don’t blame him. Me too I could watch the antics of those birds for hours on end.

Blue Jay, in the role of the BullyBlue Jay, in the role of the Bully

They all come down from the surrounding trees, landing on the food plate refilled every morning with a mountain of fresh seeds. Once they have had their fill, other birds come down to chase them away, until the first colony of birds had enough of the bullying and throw them out “en masse”.

Black-Capped Chickadee, the friendliest of them allBlack-Capped Chickadee, the friendliest of them all

And that goes on without end for the whole day. The only ones that really don’t care about people or flying bullies like the Blue Jays are the little Black Capped Chickadees. Joe told me that he even needed to brush them away from the feeder while he was replenishing it. Chickadees will eat out of your hand if you are patient enough.

Red Breasted NuthatchRed Breasted Nuthatch

The Red Breasted Nuthatches on the other hand will stay away from most birds. Nicely hiking up and down tree trunks until they find something quick and easy to grab and eat. Move your camera a little bit too fast and they’re gone. At least for a while.

Male Evening Grosbeak (right) getting a hard time by the femalesMale Evening Grosbeak (right) getting a hard time by the females

The birds that periodically fly off and come back are the Grosbeaks. At Joe’s Place they come in two kinds: the Pine Grosbeaks and the Evening Grosbeaks. There are more kinds of course, but these are the ones that frequent Joe’s Place.

Male Pine GrosbeakMale Pine Grosbeak

Both of them are Grosbeaks, but the Evening Grosbeaks seem to prefer the hanging feeders, while the Pine Grosbeaks seem to prefer to feed on the ground. But it’s only a matter of preference. Since there is no danger near the feeders on this private property, both kinds feed like they wish. There is plenty for all of them.

Male Evening GrosbeakMale Evening Grosbeak

I only take pictures of birds on the ground if I really can’t get them otherwise. Usually that means that these are my first shots. Just to make sure I have something and won’t come home empty handed. Also, getting the birds on the feeders themselves is not really a challenge. What makes the pictures worse is that they will have man-made objects in them, Something I like to avoid with nature shots.

Joe’s feeders are made from wood, and shooting them from a little lower angle takes away a little of that “feeder idea” I dislike the most. In the first two pictures of this post the feeder looks more like a fence post than anything else, so it is an acceptable prop for a bird picture.

Male Pine GrosbeakMale Pine Grosbeak

What was striking in this second year photo session on Joe’s property was that the Pine Grosbeak males were already very deeply coloured. Something they should be in about two months time only. Their bright colour would indicate they are ready for mating. But mating by –22C ? Better them than me!

Common RedpollCommon Redpoll

The last visitor at Joe’s Place was the Common Redpoll. A tiny bird that packs a lot of feathers to stay warm in the freezing cold. When things are quiet, the soft “cheep cheep” of the redpolls is quite a pleasure to hear. Even if at first you can’t see them, you can tell that they are there by the sound.

Joe’s Place. Definitely a place to come back to when the birds have moved on to make place for other species.

As for the “baiting” part in the title of this post… well, you have read it until here, haven’t you? Smile

Until next time…